Daily Arts Dream Emmy Ballots: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Thursday, June 30, 2016 - 11:10pm

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It’s Emmy nomination season: Voters in the Television Academy have just finished casting their ballots for who will be in the group of nominees announced on July 14. This year, Daily Arts Writers and Editors wanted to join in the fun, putting together our lists of who we want to be among the nominees. Today, we start our look at the drama categories with Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama:

Matthew Barnauskas, Daily TV/New Media Editor:

Paul Anderson, “Peaky Blinders” — If anything, “Peaky Blinders” showed just how hard it is to change anything, whether it's on the societal level or the personal. Nowhere was this more true than with eldest Shelby sibling, Arthur, as the man tried to make the steps necessary to leave his life of crime. Anderson captured this inner conflict, giving Arthur a mask that tries to suppress the animalistic urges that simmer inside the man until they boil over in a terrifying rage.

Christopher Eccleston, “The Leftovers” — At one point in season two of “The Leftovers,” a character asks Matt Jamison what his favorite book of the Bible is, to which he replies,“The Book of Job.” Often personifying the suffering seen in the said book, the character of Matt is gifted with an undeniable resolution by Eccleston as we see the performer take his character through the ringer, notably in the episode “No Room At the Inn,” where just when it seems that the character can't go through any more hardship, he makes an even greater sacrifice.

Michael McKean, “Better Call Saul” — Chuck McGill is a sad character. Crippled by a psychological illness, Chuck has seen his life and career shrink away. But that isn't the saddest part of the character — it’s his undying denial of his brother’s success. Placing himself in harm’s way and pushing himself to his physical limits, all to deny Jimmy the credit he's worked for, McKean makes a character we often rightfully hate but also feel a deep sense of pity for as we see a once great man reduced to the pettiest state and motives.

Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot” — “Is any of this real?” Mr. Robot asks series protagonist Elliot at one point. In a series that constantly has the viewer guessing what is actually happening, Christian Slater as the series’s titular character embodied this uncertainty. Volatile, combative and devilishly charismatic, Mr. Robot worked his way into the minds and worlds of those around him, constantly influencing characters’ actions throughout the series while always keeping the viewer in the dark as to what his true nature and motives are.

Kevin Carroll, “The Leftovers” — What would you do if the world you knew started crumbling around you? As John Murphy, Carroll captured a man struggling to preserve the ideals of his community as its cornerstone, remaining untouched by the Great Departure, fell apart. Carroll filled John with grief and anger as he desperately tried to make sense of the growing unknown as his Garden of Eden shrank away.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “Game of Thrones” — One of the unfortunate elements of the Emmys is the inertia that can take place within certain categories as certain shows and performances are constantly nominated year-after-year by the grace of being nominated in the years before. This is unfortunate in the case of a “Game of Thrones” which operates on an ensemble level, yet only one actor — Peter Dinklage — has ever been nominated for his work. While Dinklage always impresses as Tyrion Lannister, the real standout from Casterly Rock came in the form of older brother Jaime as he was forced to again confront the world outside of King's Landing and found himself having to look inward in order to re-examine his own beliefs and conceptions of the world. Coster-Waldau perhaps turned in his best performance on the show since his brilliant turn in the show's third season and it's due time the Emmys look beyond Dinklage and recognize the strengths of another "Thrones" actor.

Alex Intner, Summer Managing Arts Editor:

Jonathan Banks - “Better Call Saul”

Peter Dinklage - “Game of Thrones”

Frank Langella - “The Americans”

Michael McKean - “Better Call Saul”

Christian Slater - “Mr. Robot”

David Tennant - “Marvel’s Jessica Jones”

“Better Call Saul” has a deep group of great actors, but two of them stick out above the rest. Though Jonathan Banks didn’t get an episode that was as good a feature as last season’s “Five-O,” he still commands the screen when he’s present. His performance is contained but powerful. McKean gets to be a little showier as Jimmy’s brother Chuck, a character who struggles with an “allergy” to electricity and a dislike of his brother. However, his performance has the same amount of impact, especially toward the end of the season when he tried to prove his brother betrayed him. This also wasn’t Dinklage’s biggest year on “Thrones,” but he did an excellent job with the material he was given, especially when he was asked to play against Emilia Clarke. There’s no way Frank Langella will end up in the final field for his performance on “The Americans.” Still, he brought a perfect mix of warmth and firmness to his character, acting as both a boss and a mentor to the spies he’s supposed to monitor. Without Slater’s performance as “Mr. Robot” as a counterpoint to the main character, there’s no way in hell the show pulls off the twists and turns it does. That alone makes him worthy of a nomination. Lastly, David Tennant was absolutely terrifying as the villain in “Jessica Jones” ’s first season. He crafted a character who felt like a legitimate threat, capturing the screen every time he appeared.

Anay Katyal, Summer Senior Arts Editor:

Jonathan Banks - “Better Call Saul”

Peter Dinklage - “Game of Thrones”

Joel del la Fuente - “The Man in the High Castle”

Boyd Holbrook - “Narcos”

Ben Mendelsohn - “Bloodline”

Rufus Sewell - “The Man in the High Castle”

Though he was exceptionally chilling in “Breaking Bad,” Jonathan Banks’s (comparably more significant) role as Mike Ehrmantraut on “Better Call Saul” supported Saul’s antics rather well and added to an already impressively cohesive ensemble cast. Peter Dinklage’s role as Tyrion Lannister is an integral cog in the greater “Game of Thrones” machine, and if it weren't for Dinklage’s presence, there’d be an air of intelligence and wit that’d be missing. Joel de la Fuente’s role as Chief Inspector Kido on “The Man in the High Castle” depicted a cold, loyal and honorable man who channeled the political and cultural sentiments of WWII Japan impressively well. Boyd Holbrook’s time on “Narcos” as DEA agent Steve Murphy, along with his ambitious attempts to bring down the stories Pablo Escobar, was a hallmark facet of the Netflix original. Ben Mendelsohn was a sinister, complex presence on “Bloodline,” and watching him play his part as Danny Rayburn, black sheep of the Rayburn family, kept audiences in awe with his sinister ways. Rufus Sewell’s part as Obergruppenführer John Smith was bone-chilling, goosebump-inducing performance that no audience member would forget.

Megan Mitchell, Daily Arts Writer:

Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”

Hale Appleman, “The Magicians”

Jon Bernthal, “Marvel’s Daredevil”

Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey”

Hugh Dancy, “The Path”

Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot”

Supporting actors deserve more than this category. In many new and returning series, they are often the pillars that support a series, carrying it to success and completion in a way the leads often cannot. Take Peter Dinklage, the outspoken Tyrion Lannister on HBO’s masterpiece “Game of Thrones.” During the sixth, and most explosive, season of the critically acclaimed series, Dinklage took charge in a way so different from any previous displays of power; he really shined in his role while managing to keep his personality smooth and even throughout the show’s run. Hale Appleman shined as alcoholic sidekick Eliot on Syfy’s grown up series “The Magicians” this year. Appleman became the comic relief — a source of levity during dire situations — and a relatable, likable character that stood out greatly against the serious cast. On the topic of likable, Jon Bernthal’s reprises a classic role as the “Punisher” on Marvel’s “Daredevil” series. Although his brutish and rough nature should come off as villainous, Bernthal makes us like him too much to cause any harsh feelings. Only the talented performers know how to hook you on a character that you’re supposed to hate. On “Downton Abbey” ’s final series, Jim Carter is likely to walk away with a nomination. He embodied the spirit of Downton Abbey itself as the butler of the house and spirit of the family, a role difficult to play over six seasons, but wonderfully well represented by Jim Carson. Hugh Dancy should return to the Emmy awards after two attempts at “Hannibal” in Hulu’s new series, “The Path,” with a strong performance, despite obvious flaws in pace. Finally, Christian Slater’s performance on the mind-blowing “Mr. Robot,” pushing along the plot fabulously and acting as a wonderful balance to Malek’s beautifully unstable character, Elliot.

Sam Rosenberg, Daily Arts Writer:

Michael McKean, “Better Call Saul”

Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot”

Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul”

David Tennant, “Jessica Jones”

Nick Sandow, “Orange is the New Black”

These five supporting actors have done exceptional work playing characters that are funny, complex, mean, and captivating all in one. As Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman's bitter older brother, Michael McKean makes his character on “Better Caul Saul” into a formidable, sneaky lawyer, which continues to enhance the Cain/Abel dynamic opposite Bob Odenkirk's Jimmy. “Better Call Saul” also benefitted from Jonathan Banks's performance as the laconic Mike Ehrmantraut. Though his character work was stronger in the first season, Banks still made Mike compelling to watch in the second season. Forgetting Christian Slater's troublesome misdemeanors for a second, the “Mr. Robot” actor does a fantastic job as the mysterious titular character of the USA cyber thriller, putting forth his greatest strengths as a performer. Though many loved David Tennant as the Doctor on BBC’s revival of “Doctor Who” his villainous role as the sadistic Kilgrave on Netflix's “Jessica Jones” is the complete polar opposite of his “Doctor Who” character. While still bringing on the charm, Tennant shapes Kilgrave into one of the evilest and most frightening villains in recent memory. On “Orange is the New Black,” Nick Sandow portrays Litchfield's Director of Human Activities Joe Caputo with such understated conviction that he becomes one of the many three-dimensional characters on the show.      

Benjamin Rosenstock, Senior Arts Editor:

Martin Wallstrom - “Mr. Robot”
Joshua Jackson - “The Affair”
Jonathan Banks - “Better Call Saul”
Patrick Fabian - “Better Call Saul”
Michael McKean - “Better Call Saul”
Jesse L. Martin – “The Flash”

No supporting actor should come away from the second season of “Better Call Saul” without an acting nod. Jonathan Banks is the likely choice, conveying so much with sheer physicality and the slightest twinge of a facial muscle, but this was arguably a bigger season for Michael McKean’s Chuck. McKean manages to make Chuck’s intentions understandable even as his actions are loathsome, and his chemistry with Bob Odenkirk makes their fraught relationship utterly believable. Don’t count out Patrick Fabian, though, who delivers the show’s most underrated performance as Howard Hamlin. Hamlin is often a direct antagonist to our “heroes” Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler, but it’s clear his ruthless actions are usually more professional than personal. Fabian does a remarkable job showing that there are some depths to which even Hamlin wouldn’t sink. Martin Wallstrom, too, makes his villainous character on “Mr. Robot” more than just a cartoon; every seemingly sociopathic move he makes comes from a mix of childish stubbornness and Macbethian devotion to his controlling wife. In a sea of realistic portrayals of monsters this year, however, Jesse L. Martin’s character on “The Flash” stands out as one of the few unambiguously good guys. Protagonist Barry Allen’s relationship with his surrogate father is truly the emotional core of the show, and even in a shaky season, Martin continues to lend his warm, loving presence, this time creating his own distinctive character in the form of Joe’s alternate universe self. Joshua Jackson, too, gives one of the few wholly likable performances on his series, stealing even more scenes in the second season of “The Affair” than the first.

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